A gay high school senior in Tennessee was crowned to his school’s homecoming court on Friday night while wearing a dress, which was met with widespread support from school officials and fellow students.
White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee posted a photo on Friday congratulating Brandon Allen, 17, on his victory.
The image, which has been liked and shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, showed Allen covering his mouth in shock and wearing a gold sequin off-the-shoulder gown, diamante tiara and holding a floral bouquet awarded to members of the royal court, gender-neutral title that the school introduced this year in place of the traditional Homecoming King and Queen titles.
“Thank you to everyone who has contributed to me becoming queen,” wrote Allen, who identifies as gay, on his Instagram profile. “You guys truly looked stunningly beautiful and I am so honored to have been able to walk with you guys!!”
Junior Emmett Campbell, 16, who shot the photo and identifies as transgender, told NBC News: “It was such an incredible thing to witness. It was a moment of acceptance and validation for the LGBT+ community from our entire school.”
Jonathan Van Ness of Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ series, who is known for questioning gender norms with his clothing, praised the photo as “beautiful” on Twitter.
Responding to criticism from members of the public on White Station High School’s social media accounts, faculty and administration defended Allen.
“Today I found out lots of adults have lots of real strong feelings about who wins Homecoming,” Tweeted one teacher.
Today I found out lots of adults have lots of real strong feelings about who wins Homecoming. Since they care about what goes on at our school so much, I look forward to seeing them on campus contributing to WSHS real soon!
“Here’s the thing: it’s Brandon’s right to run for homecoming court under Title IX,” wrote Principal Carrye Holland on the school’s Facebook page.”It’s the students’ choice of who they want to support as homecoming royalty. I’m exceedingly proud to be the principal of our amazing school,” she added.
Caroline Radnofsky is a London-based reporter for NBC News.
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